Subversive Historian – 05/05/09

The Bay View Tragedy

Back in the day on May 5th, 1886, the Bay View Tragedy took place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Coming the very next day after the Haymarket Tragedy in Chicago, seven marching workers were killed by Wisconsin National Guardsmen in the struggle for the right to an eight hour workday. In the days leading up to the violent incident, workers had been organizing a series of protests. The German and Polish community held a parade for the eight hour workday on May 2nd that was followed the very next day by brewery and building trade workers going out on strike. Defying the mayor’s banning of public demonstrations, a group of 1,500 workers marched to the Bay View Rolling Mill on May 5th when they were met by the National Guard. When Wisconsin Governor Jeremiah Rusk gave shoot to kill orders, the guardsmen opened fire.

As People’s Historian Howard Zinn noted, no one was ever held to account for the slayings. Fifty striking workers, however, were sentenced to up to nine months of hard labor. Just more of the same…


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